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Obedience: setting your heart to obey God

The wounds on your heart can lead you to feel you only have one path to take in life. 

The path to continued destructive behavior: more hurt and pain, following in the footsteps of the ones who hurt you. 

I thought this was my only path until I was faced with a decision whether or not to obey God. I could either fulfill my desires or take a risk and follow God’s plan for my life. 

I saw, day after day, the ramifications of going after my own desires. 

Although I didn’t know much about God, he was pursuing me… and I didn’t know why. 

I was a mess, yet he saw me and wanted a relationship with me. He wanted me to know the immense love he had for me. 

When I finally let my guard down to see it, I realized that if I wanted to know him in greater ways I needed to obey him. I had to relinquish everything and follow his path. 

Obedience requires that you lay down your life to him and accept that what he has is best. It comes with a cost, but it’s nothing compared to the fruit that you’ll bear.

Obeying will fill the desires of your heart and the longings you have. Therefore, you must set your heart to obey God. 

God values obedience so much. Scripture shows us this, as we read about the many biblical figures represented in his word. 

The story of Jonah in the bible gives us many insights into how we can steward our hearts towards obedience to God.

A desire to obey

We must have a great desire to obey God, no matter what he asks us to do. 

God told Jonah to go to Nineveh—to share about him there—but Jonah struggled to obey (Jonah 1:1-3). 

He was opposed to God’s command, because of his personal feelings toward this city in Assyria and its sin. 

Jonah was aware of why he didn’t want to obey. We, too, must recognize why we are resisting so we can surrender to the Lord and thus allow our hearts to obey.

Jonah’s disobedience was outright by his action of fleeing to Tarshish on a boat. 

God saw Jonah in his disobedience, and he also sees us. 

Obeying will fill the desires of your heart and the longings you have.

He will make it clear to you when you are not obeying, like we saw with Jonah when the storm hit the boat when he boarded it to Tarshish (Jonah 1:4). 

We must keep our hearts humble so that we obey at first, not after a consequence is given to us. This type of heart posture always pleases God and leads well to obedience.

When we obey him, everything comes together in miraculous ways beyond our understanding. 

God honors our obedient hearts. Let’s steward our hearts with a deep desire to obey God, no matter the cost, and trust him to work out all the details.

Obeying God with the right motives

When we choose to obey, our hearts must be right before the Lord. We shouldn’t do it for the wrong reasons.

After deciding to obey inside the whale, Jonah was still angry, however, at the Assyrian people and didn’t obey out of a changed heart for them. We see this after he obeyed God in Jonah 4:2 (NIV): “He prayed to the Lord, ‘Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.’” 

Jonah wanted the people of Nineveh to experience God’s judgment for their actions. He wasn’t seeing them the way God does. His anger had hardened his heart towards them. 

But God calls us to love others and to obey with that motivation. 

We can all be judgmental of the sins of others. Others’ actions can cause us to not want to show them the love of Christ, or think they deserve to receive forgiveness.

We can learn from Jonah by examining our emotions. We must take our feelings before God so that we can obey him with the right motives. We must not let our emotions dominate us or guide us.

When he calls us to do something, it will benefit his kingdom… and ultimately, it’s for his glory. 

We should always choose to love radically as God calls us to; negative emotions can get in the way of doing this.

Obeying God is so imperative. Let’s keep our hearts open and ready to always obey God! 

Questions to ask yourself:

  • What is keeping you from obeying God? 
  • How have you obeyed God today? 


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2 Responses

  1. Yes! God used Jonah to get my attention several years ago. So many lessons. Love that “obedience will fill the desires of your heart and the longings you have.” ❤️

    1. Thanks so much, Theresa! Yes, the story of Jonah teaches us so much! I agree there are so many lessons to learn!

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Nikki Evanson

Hi, I'm Nikki

My goal is to help and equip Christians like you to live for Jesus by following Matthew 22:37-39: to love God and love people, and within this we need to learn how to love ourselves as God does.

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